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Residents in Manchester have been challenged to consider community tourism as a viable economic option, to replace the fallout in the bauxite industry, due to the downturn in the world’s economy.
This charge was given by Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer of Countrystyle Community Tourism Network, Mrs. Diana McIntyre-Pike, at the second in a series of quarterly ‘Life After Bauxite’ seminars, hosted by the Manchester Chamber of Commerce and the Social Development Commission (SDC) in Manchester, at the Golf View Hotel in Mandeville, on October 21.
Mrs. McIntyre-Pike, one of the presenters at the seminar, said that tourism is the number one industry in the world and Jamaica should consider community tourism seriously. “We have other countries that are doing that through the International Institute of Peaceful Tourism. Tourism is the number one industry of the world and it is time for us to take it seriously as being the driving force of the economy, because it impacts on everything else – agriculture, music, sports, and others,” she said.
The Chairperson pointed out that many tourists now prefer destinations where they can benefit from real experiences.
She said that her organisation is proposing that the focus and main thrust in fostering community tourism in Manchester should be on health and wellness.
“Our network has decided it is time for us to come up and focus on one main thrust and that is health and wellness. We are going to propose to the Manchester Chamber of Commerce and the citizens of Manchester that we reap the benefits of all the foundations that have been laid,” she said.
Mrs. McIntyre-Pike said the mission of the project, dubbed ‘The Wellness Built Project’, is to support and assist communities in improving their knowledge of the benefits of a healthy lifestyle as well as to assist and support health and wellness facilities.
“We are looking at exposing and highlighting Manchester as a wellness destination for local and international visitors; educating and sensitising and exposing communities to the issues and practices relating to general health, diet, fitness and wellness as a way of life, to enable them to become more productive and healthy,” she said.
Mrs. McIntyre-Pike said there are also plans to build a network of local and international partners to assist in the success of a wellness village programme; to provide resource information on health and wellness facilities; and to assist communities to understand the importance of maintaining a clean, healthy and natural environment as well as focus on organic farming.
“Organic farming is what the visitors want, they want to go to the farms, they want to see how you farm potatoes, they want to see how you plant, they want to pay for the experience of going in to learn how to do it and they also want to understand the nutritional value of everything that they are planting,” she noted.
Area Chairperson for the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association (JHTA), South Coast, Ms. Judy Schoenbein, said that Mandeville must develop a marketable brand and work on increasing its percentage share of occupancy for the accommodation sector.
“Mandeville derives six per cent of the annual stop over visitor arrivals to the destination. The average occupancy for the accommodation sector for Mandeville and the south coast is between 24 to 30 per cent, an undesirable percentage and one that the area must commit to increasing. For Mandeville to get into the tourism circle, a marketable brand has to be developed, and critical to the development of tourism in any area is the appeal of the area. Travellers are seeking a variety of interests when they go on holiday, from nature, heritage, soft adventure, and community tourism experience,” she said.

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